Craigdarroch, Craigdarroch Rig

Suggested Meaning :G. creag darach ‘craig of the oak’
First element:Gaelic creag ‘rock, craig’
Second element:Gaelic darach ‘oak’
Blaeu Coila (1654):Kraig Darroch
OS Name Books (1855-57):Craigbranoech
Location:OS Six-inch Scotland 1892-1960
Early References
Cragydarocht (1535), Craigdoroche (1648, Wills), Kraig Darroch (Blaeu 1654)

Following the death of James Dunbar, baron of Cumnock in 1535 the following parcel of lands in Glen Afton, including Cragydarrocht, passed to another member of the Dunbar family [1].

At Striueling , 27 Jul [1535]

‘Ane Letter maid to DAME JONET STEWART, LADY MOCHRUM (a footnote says “the second wife of Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum, and mother of Gavin Dunbar, Archbishop of Glasgow), hir airis and assignais ane or ma, – of the gift of nonentres, malis, fermes,profittis and dewities of the four merk land of the Blakcrag, ane merk land of Munthray, twa merk land of Cragydarrocht, thre merk land of Lagurgeroch, twa merk land [of] Polloch, three merk land of Puntlo and twa merk land of Lagbrowen, with the pertinentis,pertenyng to hir in in (sic) conjunct fee, liand in the barony of Cumnok, within the shirefdome of Aire, being in oure soverane lordis handis be resoun of nonenteree of the last terme of Witsounday, throw the deceis of umquhill James Dunbar of Cumnok.

Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol 2, no. 1737.

In Blaeu’s Coila Provincia (1654) it appears in the form Kraig Darroch –

Map 1: Kraigbrinach, Kraigbyrnoch hil Blaeu (1654) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Craigdarroch farm nestles at the base of the north face of Craigbraneoch Hill between Blackcraig Hill to the east and Craigdarroch Rig to the west.

Map 2: Craigbraneoch and its rock faces | Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland


Gaelic creag darach ‘rock of the oak’

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Craigdarroch reads –

Craigdarroch: A farm house occupied by John Welch, senior. herd, the property of Mr. John Craig, Polquheys.

First element: Gaelic creag ‘rock, crag’

The place-name element craig– is very common in the parish of New Cumnock and is either Gaelic creag ‘rock, crag’ [2] or Scots craig ‘rock, crag’ [3].

In the case of Craigdarroch the first element is readily identifiable as Gaelic creag ‘rock, crag’ [2]. Identifying the rock in question is a little more tricky. There are no named rock faces going by that name of the nearby Craigbraneoch Hill or Blackcraig Hill. Nor is there one on Craigdarroch Rig, albeit it terminates on its northern face with a rock face known as Bolt Craig (known locally as ‘The Bout’) [4] – perhaps this was the original ‘rock of the oak’, which it gave its name to the Rig and the farm.

Second element: Gaelic darach ‘oak-tree, oak-wood’

As noted in the Ordnance Survey Name Book (1885-57) entry for Craigdarroch Rig, the second element is Galeic darach ‘oak-tree, oak-wood’ [5]. Presumably the oak-tree or wood is long gone.

Craigdarroch Rig

Place-Name Craigdarroch + Scots rig ‘ridge’

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for Craigdarroch Rig reads –

Craigdarroch Rig: A high ridge extending from Yarngallows Knowe to Bolt Craig.

darach ‘an oak, oak timber’ and dearg ‘red’ – Gaelic Dictionary

rig, rigg ‘a ridge’ – Jamieson, i.e. Jamieson’s Scots Dictionary

Scots rig ‘A ridge of high ground, a long narrow hill, a hill-crest’ [6].

Oak Trees, Druids and Christianity

Shirley Toulson in ‘The Celtic Year’ [7] explains, ‘Druids made their temples in oak groves, where the trees supported the sacred mistletoe, and where the oak apples could be ground into a flour that appears to have been used in a ritual meal.’

Some commentators believe the druids take their name from Greek drys ‘oak’. There is no evidence of an ancient grove at Craigdarroch, but what a stunning location for a sacred, spiritual place. Sacred associations of oaks survived the advance of Christianity perhaps the most notable Celtic examples being in Ireland at St. Brigit’s* foundation at Cilla Dara ‘church of the oak’, i.e. Kildare and St. Colum Cille’s (Columba) foundation Doire Calgaich ‘Calgaich’s oak grove’, i.e. Derry.

[1] Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol 2, no. 1737
[2] Edward Dwelly , Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary | creag
[3] Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd | crag,craig
[4] New Cumnock Place-Name | Bolt Craig
[5] Edward Dwelly , Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary | darach
[6]Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd | rig
[7] Shirley Toulson ‘The Celtic Year’ (1993)
Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1: Joan Blaeu, 1596-1673, Coila Provincia, [or], The province of Kyle / auct. Timoth. Pont. (1654) | Kraig Darroch
Map 2 : Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1960 (1894) | Craigdarroch
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By permission of Scotland’s Places
Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49| Craigdarroch
Ayrshire O Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49 | Craigdarroch Rig